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Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Road Accident Fund?

Government plans to establish a road accident fund to help address the challenges road traffic victims face e.g. disability and loss of employment. According to the Ministry of Transport the current third party motor vehicle insurance scheme does not effectively address the post-crash needs. Many motorists see it as "a form of tax that they would avoid rather than a protection for their lives". Government is keen on having a scheme that would facilitate compensation to victims and meet their financial and medical requirements.

The Government has not yet explained the key aspects of this proposal: how will it be implemented or enforced? Is it going to be a voluntary fund people pay into or mandatory? There are no hard proposals on the table. In theory this can only be done in one of four ways:

Option 1: A pure GRZ scheme funded from the existing health or transport budget
Option 2: A motorist fund which every motorist contributes to (including businesses)
Option 3: A targeted fund at the transportation industry only (e.g buses, haulage industry)
Option 4: A combination of the above options

Anything apart from Option 1 would amount to an additional tax on people on top of other taxes being levied on motorists e.g. road tax, carbon tax. An additional question also raises issues of fairness. Some are already insured, so why should they fork out more to others? Indeed, why have a car insurance scheme at all?

The idea is fraught with difficulties. The question is therefore whether there are other alternatives that Government should be looking at. A right approach would perhaps focus two things.

First, preventing road accidents. Government should come up with adequate policies that solve the causes of the current carnage on our roads, rather than focusing on the symptoms. Surprisingly, there’s a lot that can be done in this area. We can start by stopping the largest killer – drunk driving. Most accidents involve intoxicated drivers. We can also work hard to promote defensive safety culture through encouraging behaviour change. Many countries run campaigns and training courses to make drivers aware of the dangers and consequences of careless driving. We can improve road designs to cater for children and the vulnerable. There’s also need for consideration of dual carriage on many of our road and improve lighting!

Secondly, internalise the costs. For example the legal framework should be reformed that would allow people to efficiently and effective sue whoever is responsible for accidents. For example, if the accident is caused by poor road maintenance - the people should be able to sue whoever is responsible for that e.g local council. In the same way one sues their employer for poor environment at work. This is very common in many countries and it is good way to internalise accountability.

In light of the above it would seem prudent for more options to be explored before we venture in the dark!

3 comments:

  1. Good points noted on trying to address the ROOT CAUSE. I would also like to add one other critical solution perhaps to curb the open corruption of those issuing drivers' licences. Many people have never been through driving lessons but because they have money, its always easier for them to just buy the licence. The ones who have been taught have also decided to drive unlawfully because they have no extra money to corrupt someone for the licence.
    My second point you have already mentioned is the lack of lighting on our roads. Everyone is driving at night with FULL beam lights because they really cant see the road and that is dangerously distructive to the ones coming ahead of you and even the one driving behind you at night. Especially on the long distance roads. So really before putting up the fund which may also be abused, we would do well to take care of the critical causes of our road carnage

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  2. Another major cause of accidents is the lack of provision for pedestrians and the complete lack of knowledge of road safety on the part of the average pedestrian. 50% of victims are pedestrians and cyclists. No footpaths, no safe crossings, and children with nowhere to play but the road, all contribute. Parents do not seem to educate their children (as mine did), perhaps because they also don't know. Nobody teaches that bicycles should ride on the left and signal when turning. Or that it is safer to walk on the right so that you face oncoming traffic. If people cannot hear a vehicle (because it is quiet or there is a truck passing) they take two steps into the road before looking. Children run into the road behind big trucks without looking to check if there is another vehicle coming. It is amazing to me that more don't die but I don't think overtaxing safe drivers is the solution.

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  3. It is a great thought being thought by people that they would be establishing a new fund for those people who are being injured by and this will definitely help of people in surviving different types of injuries and accidents. By collecting these funds it will help for those people who have help people those who have lost everything in the accident. This will also help in saving taxes.

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